1. It was supposed to be an animated feature originally, but was changed to live action because everyone's dumb

undefined

The natural place for most comic book movies should logically be animation - comics themselves are drawn, so that they can include absurd, insane action and creatures without breaking the bank. Plus, some drawn things would just look too goofy in real life - such as an angry humanoid duck, or another humanoid duck who has duck-boobs.

undefined

That isn't to say there isn't a lot of value in giving a comic book a real life adaptation - the Batman films, Iron Man, and a million others have been ridiculously and rightfully successful. Even Guardians of the Galaxy - a film that prominently features an angry humanoid raccoon - has been a huge success. The problem Howard the Duck had in going live action was twofold - one, James Gunn didn't write and direct it (he was busy being 16 years old), and two, Hollywood's special effects weren't sophisticated enough for Howard to not look ridiculous.

undefined

The weird thing is that they knew this - and had originally wanted Howard the Duck to be an animated feature. Writers Gloria Katz and William Huyck had written the film intending it to be animated, but then the film was optioned by Universal Studios. Universal had previously passed on a few wildly successful things being produced by George Lucas (minor films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and were gripped by a bad case of FOMO - but they also needed a bigtime summer tentpole release, and an animated film wouldn't cut it. So they decided to turn Howard the Duck from a surreal satirical animated film into a live action summer blockbuster.



2. It was Marvel's first theatrical release since the 1940's, and the first Marvel feature film PERIOD

undefined

Now that Marvel's built a mighty film empire of movies starring rogueish-but-good-hearted superdudes for itself, it's hard to imagine that their first feature film EVER came out less than 30 years ago. It's even harder to imagine that Marvel's first theatrical film was about Marty McFly's mom trying to bone a duck.

Prior to Howard the Duck (released in 1986), the last piece of Marvel anything to be shown in movie theaters was a Captain America serial back in the 1940's, back when movie serials were a thing (and when Captain America was pre-frozen). The real crazy thing? The next Marvel film to see a theatrical release wasn't until 12 years later - 1998's Blade*.

* - although in-between they released several direct-to-video low-budget versions of The Punisher, Captain America, and - infamously - The Fantastic Four.



3. It cost more than Return of the Jedi to produce

undefined

Howard the Duck cost $37 million to produce. Return of the Jedi (George Lucas' previous big budget film) cost $32.5 million.

To be fair, printing out fake products with duck-related puns on them ain't cheap.

undefined

 

4. Howard the Duck was released EXACTLY 28 years before Guardians of the Galaxy

undefined

Yep, Howard the Duck came out on August 1st, 1986 - exactly 28 years before Guardians of the Galaxy was released on August 1st, 2014. And if you've seen Guardians of the Galaxy, you might already see the connection here - and if you haven't, maybe stop reading this and go see it, okay? It's pretty good.

Also, of course, Howard the Duck has a cameo in the film's big post-credits sequence (although with pants, and voiced by Seth Green), meaning all big-screen appearances of Howard the Duck have come out on August 1st. 



5. It's the reason Pixar EXISTS

undefined

The mid-80s were a dark time for George Lucas. In 1983, he and his wife went through a costly divorce, while at the same time revenue from Star Wars and its associated merchandise was starting to fall off (post-Jedi). This was putting an undue amount of pressure on Lucasfilm to start bringing in some money to offset losses - and with the investments made in Howard the Duck looking more and more suspect as time went on (and a lack of confidence those investments would pay off in any significant way), Lucas looked for a way to bring in some cash.

Lucas saw an opportunity to sell the Graphix Group, a computer graphics division within Lucasfilm that had spent most of their existence in building tools and methods for computer animation and effects instead of actually making pieces of entertainment, for $5 million (as well as a $5 million investment in the company). The buyer? Steve Jobs, just having lost his position at Apple Computers, who then turned what had been a small computer division at Lucasfilm into Pixar.

So thanks, Howard the Duck! You may be weird, uncomfortable, and a pretty bad movie overall, but at least you gave us Pixar.

undefined